Because The Age and the Herald Sun
are both Commonwealth Games sponsors, neither paper has got serious
about holding the Victorian government or Ron Walker’s Melbourne 2006
organising committee to account for a series of budget blowouts and
boardroom squabbles.

Hopefully this will change with the appointment of Rick Wallace as The Australian‘s Commonwealth Games reporter. Wallace and the paper provided a clue of what is to come with this page three lead on Saturday which began as follows:

The Bracks Government secretly compensated the developers
of the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village after insisting that
unionised labour be used to build the project, industry sources have
told The Weekend Australian.

With the Victorian
Auditor-General poised to release a report on the $150million project,
sources claim a $55million premium was paid to the Village Park
Consortium for the added costs of using the union workforce. The
sources say the costs were incurred because 155 houses had to be built
using building union members, rather than non-union housing
subcontractors, under a government-brokered memorandum of understanding.

Rather
than secretly compensating the Singapore-Government controlled
Australand and its partner Citta Properties, it sounds more like a case
of the bidders adding $55 million to their tender once the government
caved in to union demands and insisted on a closed shop.

I spent
three hours touring the four Commonwealth Games facilities that were
opened to the public for tours yesterday. How timely that this story
about Leighton subsidiary John Holland suing the state for $10.3
million over the $52 million extension of the Melbourne Sports and
Aquatic Centre appeared on the day it was open for inspection.

John
Holland certainly didn’t seem to have tried too hard to make the
swimming centre look ready and there were big CFMEU signs erected
declaring the site was “100% union.” Isn’t that illegal? It certainly
might explain the $10 million claim in the state which is most
notorious for blowout-inducing militancy by its construction unions.

The
other Commonwealth Games skirmish in the weekend papers related to the
Queen’s Baton Relay. Ron Walker was rolled at Friday’s board meeting
when the other four Melbourne 2006 directors, Peter Bartels, Sam Coffa,
Perry Crosswhite and Don Stockins, insisted they would run, as is their
right given their records as Commonwealth Games athletes and
administrators.

So much for Ron’s claim that there was a board
policy against running. Games Minister Justin Madden confirmed the
policy didn’t exist, so it sounds like another classic exaggeration
from the new chairman of John Fairfax, a media company which prides
itself on the accuracy and insight of its journalism.